Tirana, special edition Literary Balkans


The honoring of the prominent Bulgarian translator from Albanian MARINA MARINOVA in Tirana almost coincided with ISMAIL KADARE being awarded the Man Booker International Prize. The famous Albanian writer won the close-run with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Naguib Mahfouz, Milan Kundera, Stanislaw Lem, Gunter Grass and Philip Roth. Until now the award has only been given to authors from Great Britain, Ireland and the countries of the British Commonwealth. As of this year it is also awarded to foreigners who write or are published in English.
I am a writer from the Balkan Fringe, says ISMAIL KADARE, a part of Europe which has long been notorious exclusively for news of human wickedness - armed conflicts, civil wars, ethnic cleansing, and so on.
My firm hope is that European and world opinion may henceforth realise that this region, to which my country, Albania, belongs, can also give rise to other kinds of news and be the home of other kinds of achievement, in the field of the arts, literature and civilisation.
The writers best known work The General of the Dead Army, which he wrote at 27, in 1963, was for the first time translated in a foreign language, namely Bulgarian, by Marina Marinova in 1966. She is the first translator of Kadares prose. The Bulgarian translator was in Albania on the invitation of the Ministry of Culture, the Union of Albanian Writers and the Albanian-Bulgarian Friendship Society. The Minister of Culture Blendi Klosi personally awarded her a Medal of Appreciation. And the decree of the Albanian president Alfred Moisiu emphasizes the valuable contribution of Marina Marinova in familiarizing the world with Albanian culture, and her long (47 years) useful work to popularize Albanian literature. This has been the first time Albania presents such an award to a foreign translator. Tirana looks like a west European city everything is colorful and new, and it wasnt so 16 years ago, the translator shared. I am proud to be a Bulgarian and proud of the fact it was Bulgarian readers who were the first to be introduced to The General of the Dead Army in my translation only three years after the publication of the book.

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